Happy Wednesday and welcome to my stop on the Crier’s War blog tour!! I’m excited to share my interview with Nina Varela with you today! Read on to find out how tall Ayla and Crier are, follow the rest of the tour, and learn more about Nina and her book!
Crier's War by Nina Varela
Series: Crier's War #1
Published by HarperTeen on October 1, 2019
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+
After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.
Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.
Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.
Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.
What was your favorite bit of research you ended up not using?
Oh god. So much. I get so bogged down with tiny inconsequential details. I’ll write, like, “Ayla was eating bread with jam,” and then my brain is like, WHOA WHOA WHOA. SLOW DOWN. PUMP THE BRAKES. WHAT KIND OF JAM? And suddenly it’s six hours later and I could write a thesis on 14th century jam flavors and fruit preservation techniques and then I go back to the sentence and I’m like, “Oh, right, actually it doesn’t matter what kind of jam she’s eating. Nobody cares. Well, I learned my lesson! No more getting lost in the research vortex!” And then three sentences later I do the exact same thing for a throwaway character’s shoes.
Do you have a favorite scene, quote, or moment from Crier’s War?
What is something that we might not know about your main characters?
Crier is 5’10” and Ayla is 5’4”. I had to indulge myself. What else… Crier writes political essays for fun and Ayla is very handy with a dagger.
How do you feel about LGBTQIA+ rep in your work and how important is it to you to write diverse characters and storylines?
It’s incredibly important, though I’m not sure how we’re defining “diversity” here—“diverse” is sometimes used as an umbrella term for all marginalized identities, sometimes in the context of just gender and sexuality, sometimes in the context of just race and ethnicity, neurodiversity, etc. I want to tell stories that reflect the full spectrum of humanity, but I’m also very aware that I’m a white queer and many, many stories are not mine to tell. So maybe I can populate my stories with people of various marginalized identities (as long as I’m being careful and respectful and doing my due diligence, etc.), but I can’t write a story about the specific experience of being [Marginalization I Don’t Share], the experience of belonging to X culture, things you can only truly understand if you’re an insider. In terms of LGBTQIA+ rep—I don’t have any particular interest in writing non-queer stories. I don’t think I have it in me. In the words of Hayley Kiyoko: “Whether it was gay or not, I made it gay. Because I’m gay.”
What are some TV shows, movies, and books that would pair well with your book?
I love the phrasing of this question—like pairing fine wine with cheese.
TV shows: Honestly, I’m so behind on TV… I will say I recently fell in love with the new reboot of ROSWELL NEW MEXICO. It actually deals with similar themes—nonhumans vs. humans, forbidden love, loss and the grief/anger/bitterness that follows. Also, canonically bisexual aliens.
Movies: EX MACHINA had its flaws but I did like the overall plot and the whole Turing Test concept, and the android technology was really fascinating and beautifully rendered. Plus it stars Alicia Vikander (my wife) and Oscar Isaac (my platonic husband), so there’s that. Loved the ending, too.
Books: I’ve just started THE MURDERBOT DIARIES by Martha Wells and I’m loving it so far. It explores one of my favorite tropes—Robot Discovers Feelings—in a really gorgeous, nuanced way, and the worldbuilding is so so so good.
Which of your characters do you identify the most with and why?
Some days Ayla, most days Crier. Often Benjy: I am furious and I want big radical change.
Thank you so much for answering my questions Nina!
Thank you so much for having me! <333
Nina Varela is a nationally awarded writer of screenplays and short fiction. She was born in New Orleans and raised on a hippie commune in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent most of her childhood playing in the Eno River, building faerie houses from moss and bark, and running barefoot through the woods. These days, Nina lives in Los Angeles with her writing partner and their tiny, ill-behaved dog. She tends to write stories about hard-won love and young people toppling the monarchy/patriarchy/whatever-archy. On a related note, she’s queer. On a less related note, she has strong feelings about hushpuppies and loves a good jambalaya. CRIER’S WAR is her first novel.
You can find Nina at any given coffee shop in the greater Los Angeles area, or at www.ninavarela.com.